By: Terry L. Howe - 8/2003
|It is possible to get a nice even bolt pattern and clear sheet metal on the inside of the tub.|
|The finished product, painted, and bolted on.|
I wanted to have some beefy rocker protection without spending a lot of cash and I found it was not too difficult to do. I managed to build some nice rocker protection for less than $45.
There are always two schools in rocker protection, rockers and nerfs. I've had both and I really prefer the plate rocker protection over nerfs. The nerfs do tie into the frame and you can have them sticking out a little to keep the vehicle away from rocks, but the compromise clearance and tend to get hooked on things. On two earlier Jeeps I built, I'd used bent 3/16" diamond plate rocker guards and I'd always been real pleased at the way they worked. You need to be a bit more careful to keep the body clean, but you don't get stuck as much. I haven't had a problem with them not being tied into the frame.
The reason rocker guards of this type are so expensive is because few people have a brake that will bend such thick plate metal. I saved a lot of money on building these by using regular flat stock and welding pieces together rather than bending a heavy piece of diamond plate. I spent $35 for 20 feet of 6"x3/16" flat and 20 feet of 1"x3/16" flat. I spent another $10 on 3/8"x1" hex head bolts. Some stainless steel button head hex bolts would of been nicer, but they would of cost around $50. This is less than half of what I would expect to pay for rockers like this.
I started by rough cutting the flat stock the length I would need for the rocker guards. Next, I welded the 1" flat to the edge of the 6" flat. I clamped both pieces of flat stock to a piece of angle iron to hold them at a 90 degree angle to one another. I lined the 1" flat about 1/8" away from the edge so that I would have room to weld. I ran stitch welds every 6 inches on the outside so that the welds would not interfere with getting the rocker guard tight to the edge of the rocker panel.
After the rocker guards were welded, I clamped them to the body and marked them to be cut for the contour of the wheel wells. I also marked out areas I could put bolts to figure out a bolt pattern. I am lucky enough to have a plasma cutter, so cutting was easy for me, but the cuts could be made with a jig saw, circular handsaw, or angle grinder. An angle grinder will be needed to finish the cuts either way.
I managed to lay out a nice even bolt pattern with bolts every 12" along the top and along the bottom. It took eleven bolts on either side. The tricky part is avoiding having bolts come out in the floor or other inconvenient areas. I drilled all the holes 3/8".
After the rockers were cut and drilled, I cleaned them up with some laquer thinner and hit them with rattle can black. When the paint was dried they were ready to be installed. My neighbor Wilbur helped be hold them up, drill holes through the body, and get the bolts in there. After they were bolted down, I ran a bead of black RTV along the top of the panel to keep out dirt and water. In the past, I've glued them down with RTV, but that makes them nearly impossible to remove.
The panels were a fair amount of work to build, I think I spent nearly a day on the two of them. The cost was excellent and the fit great. I haven't hit the rocks with them yet, but from past experience, they will hold up great.